The shrieks last longer. The zombies wander for weeks. The rattling of chains goes on and on. Halloween, once a one-night wonder, has become a full month of the macabre at California attractions. Here's a guide to the thrills and chills:
World's Largest Haunted House
The creators of what's billed as the World's Largest Haunted House know the horror biz inside and out.
After all, these four South County guys -- Oscar Garcia, Matthew Salinas, Paul Salinas and Mike Young -- started out behind the scenes, scaring the wits out of those who dared venture into an early 1990s haunted house in San Jose.
Now, they have their own haunt: a quarter-mile-long maze at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds with an all-live (well, you know what we mean) cast of creepy characters.
The fairgrounds are at 344 Tully Road, San Jose. The event is open Friday through Sunday and on Halloween. Tickets are $20-$22; for a schedule and details, go to www.worldslargesthauntedhouse.com.
Winchester Mystery House
You might call this historic home California's first Halloween attraction, what with its maze of 160 rooms, secret passageways, baffling staircases and architectural oddities based on the number 13. During Fright Nights, the house adds ghoulish scares to its year-round focus on the eccentric Sarah Winchester and her nonstop home expansion that, legend has it, was aimed at foiling the Winchester rifle curse.
Extras: For the horror-averse, there's a Straw Labyrinth and Garden Tour for $10. Attendees are invited to bring a picnic to enjoy under the wisteria arbor.
When: Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Nov. 3, plus two Thursdays (Oct. 18, 25) and Oct. 29, 30 and 31. Hours are 6:30 p.m. to midnight most nights.
Details: Because of sellouts, advance tickets are recommended. Fright Nights tickets, $40-$45, include a flashlight tour and a 40-minute-long Curse of Sarah Winchester Maze. (For ages 13 and up only.) 525 S. Winchester Blvd., San Jose. 408-247-2101; www.winchestermysteryhouse.com.
Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
The North Bay theme park's Fright Fest combines nighttime gore and horror for teens and adults with daytime Halloween fun for families. New this year are the Massacre Mine, where wicked spirits haunt an abandoned shaft, and Cirkus Berzerkus, which is full of crazed, maniacal clowns. For kids, there's a Twick or Tweat Twail and a Pumpkin Patch with cooking decorating, a talking pumpkin and Wendy the Witch.
Extras: A blood drive (a real one) Oct. 20 benefits the Blood Centers of the Pacific.
When: Weekends plus the last two Fridays before Halloween. Hours are noon to 10 p.m. Saturdays, noon to 9 p.m. Sundays and 4 to 10 p.m. Oct. 19 and 26.
Details: Tickets start at $37.99 online, a savings of $20 over the gate entrance fee; some attractions cost extra. 1001 Fairgrounds Drive, Vallejo. 707-643-6722; www.sixflags.com/discoverykingdom.
California's Great America
Three nights a week in October, ghouls transform Great America into a Halloween Haunt with mazes, themed scare zones and eerie stage shows for visitors 13 and older. On weekends during daytime, there's kid fun, including a Peanuts Spooktacular show, a foamy pumpkin patch to play in and trick-or-treating with Snoopy and the gang.
Extras: Santa Clara hotels are offering Halloween Haunt packages with a room rate of $129-$149 for a Friday- or Saturday-night stay, plus two free Haunt admissions.
When: The Haunt is open 7 p.m. to midnight Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Oct. 28. The regular park is open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekends only.
Details: Haunt tickets start at $25.99. Buy a Pre-Scare Booffet from 5:30 to 7:30 for $14, or a Haunt Club 13 Feast for $75. Great America Parkway, Santa Clara. 408-988-1776; www.cagreatamerica.com.
Pirates of Emerson
This East Bay Halloween tradition, which had its start 21 years ago in a Fremont neighborhood, now has taken up residence at the Alameda County Fairgrounds. Here, it has morphed into a larger attraction featuring eight haunted zones, including Arachno, Fractured Fairytales, Corn Walk and, of course, the buccaneers.
Extras: The attraction boasts that it is 90 percent handicapped accessible, and staff escorts are available.
When: Open 20 nights in October, including Halloween, from 7 to 10 p.m. Closed Mondays, including Oct. 29.
Details: Tickets, $20 (weekdays) to $25 (Friday-Saturday, plus Halloween). Those who purchase vouchers online will get preference in the ticket line; box-office sales are cash only (there's an ATM on-site). Alameda County Fairgrounds, Bernal and Valley avenues, Pleasanton. www.piratesofemerson.com.
Six Flags Magic Mountain
Like its Northern California cousin, the Six Flags in Southern California is also presenting a Fright Fest with "thrills by day" for families and "chills at night" for teens and adults. New this year are three nightmarish mazes: Blackout, Black Widow and Willoughby's Resurrected.
Extras: A Fright Feast buffet with a family of nightmarish characters is $25.
When: Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Oct. 28. Open 10:30 a.m. to midnight most nights, until 11 p.m. Sundays.
Details: Tickets, $44.99 if printed at home; maze passes are extra. 26101 Magic Mountain Parkway, Valencia. 661-255-4111; www.sixflags.com.
Knott's Berry Farm
This is the granddaddy of them all. Yes, the theme park that started out as a humble boysenberry stand was the first to make hay out of Halloween. Knott's Scary Farm is marking its 40th year of horror with 13 mazes/attractions, four scare zones and lots of live shows.
During the day, the park's Camp Snoopy caters to families with Snoopy's Costume Party, storytelling and trick-or-treating.
Extras: New this year is "Trapped," described as an interactive maze that "leads guests into an abyss of deepest fears and phobias." It's $60 worth of scares, and it requires advance reservations.
When: Halloween Haunt, Oct. 4-7, 11-14, 18-21, 25-28, 30-31. Open 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. (until 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays). Snoopy's Costume Party, weekends in October. Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Details: Halloween Haunt tickets, $36-$52 presale online (or $60 day of event). Snoopy's Party is included with park admission. 8039 Beach Blvd., Buena Park; 714-220-5200; www.knotts.com.
Disneyland; Disney's California Adventure
The parks celebrate Halloween for a full six weeks before Halloween, with the addition of hundreds of carved pumpkins, spookier looks to favorite attractions, and the rollout of Halloween-themed food and beverages.
New this year: a Halloween Time Carnival featuring Disney villains and a special exhibit on "The Art of Frankenweenie," Tim Burton's new film.
Extras: Mickey's Halloween Party is a special ticketed event with parade, fireworks, trick-or-treating and photo ops.
When: Although the park's Halloween theme runs through Oct. 31, Mickey's Halloween Party is offered on select nights only from either 6 to 11 p.m. or 7 p.m. to midnight. The event includes park admission for three hours before the festivities and parking for one vehicle.
Details: Tickets, $46-$69; buy in advance for best price and to avoid sellouts. 1313 S. Harbor Blvd., Anaheim. 800-854-3104, 714-781-7290 for guest relations, http://disneyland.disney.go.com.
Universal Studios Hollywood
"The Walking Dead" of AMC's popular television series have invaded and inspired this year's Halloween Horror Nights.
Look for zombies on the Terror Tram and in the mazes. Other ghouls and freaks will reign in the four scare zones.
New mazes include "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre." On the lighter side, there's "Bill & Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure."
Extras: The VIP Experience offers entry to the VIP Horror Lounge, a guided tour of the Universal backlot and unlimited put-you-at-thefront-of-the-line use at all attractions.
When: There are a total of 15 dates in October, including Halloween night. The park will be open 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. most nights, and until 1 a.m. Sundays and Thursdays.
Details: Tickets, $41-$66 when purchased online in advance; day/night combos are extra. 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City. 800-864-8377; www.universalstudioshollywood.com.